How the Founders of Pehr Launched a Brand, Had Babies and Stayed Best Friends Hint: know your role.

By Jen Kelly and Becca Perren | photos courtesy of by Pehr

If there was one piece of advice that we were given over and over again when we started our business, it was that ‘working with friends does NOT work.’ We heard that multiple times.  In fact, when we were five years into the business and had just won an award, a very successful female entrepreneur told us to figure out a way for one of us to exit the business, because it wouldn’t last. Fast forward a few years and the business is not only thriving but we can also confirm that our partnership and friendship is too! 

In fact, we are pretty sure that we wouldn’t still being doing this if we weren’t in it together. Building and running a growing business is hard. Like, really hard. It can test any relationship, but starting a business with your best friend (although it sounds like a dream!) has the potential to end a relationship. For us though, it just works. In fact, we feel it’s one of our biggest strengths. It’s what makes it fun and keeps us going through the tough times.

We landed on the name ‘Pehr’ as it was a play on the word “pair”. A word that could describe both the mix and match philosophy of the brand, and the fact that it was the two of us. We have been friends since we were seven. When we were both pregnant at the same time with our first babies, we decided that we were going to use our maternity leave (in Canada you can take a year off!) to start a business. Little did we know how time-consuming babies are…but we somehow managed to kick things off and officially launched Pehr at a New York tradeshow just days before Jen’s baby’s first birthday.

In retrospect, we’re not quite sure how we did it as the lead-up to our launch was a bit unconventional…we hadn’t produced a thing besides samples and had not shown anyone the product. We got lucky though. The show was a success…we got immediate attention from retailers and media and it propelled us to keep moving forward. Yes, even through those sleepless baby days!

The nuts and bolts of how we work together are pretty simple and can distill down to three key takeaways. 

1. From day one we knew who would be doing what…fortunately, we have different professional backgrounds and to this day the way that we have split responsibilities hasn’t changed. It meant there would be no tension or confusion which is important.

2. We religiously have a morning call, before we even get into the office (when we can work there!). It’s a mash up of personal and professional and it really helps us talk through issues. Running a business can be very lonely, but thankfully we have never experienced that loneliness as we have always had each other. 

3. We have a very deep, longstanding familial relationship because we have known each other for so long. Decades, to be exact…which means we often see things the same way. We can be very open and honest, and when we disagree, we resolve and move on. Kind of like sisters. Just two ‘sisters’ running a fast growing children’s lifestyle business together  – what could be better than that?